Last year, I started the field season as soon as the university spring semester ended, because my field assistants were undergraduates and needed to take their finals before heading off into the mountains. That turned out to be too late, as we found that some of the juncos had started breeding without us. So this year I found some awesome non-undergraduate volunteers and went out earlier.
But I might have started a little too early.
We’d known it was going to rain, and I thought it had – a particularly light-sounding rain pattering on my tent throughout the night. When I woke up I thought my tent had been covered in seeds washed loose by the rain. Then I stuck my head outside.
In fact it was better than rain: drier, and still permitting us to boil water for breakfast.
And prettier, too.
But – wisely – the juncos appeared to not have breeding on their minds at this site yet.
At another site the snow was even thicker.
The juncos there had nevertheless decided it was spring, and were singing.
(I only brought my macro lens into the field, so my photos of distant juncos aren’t great.)
We even saw some familiar faces! Or, familiar legs, since it’s by their leg bands that we identify them.
At the site where we were camped, we saw KARL, a junco we banded last year who was king of the campground: no matter where you tried to lure in juncos with playback, you only got KARL responding. We’ll see if he’s king of the campground this year too.
A lower site was sufficiently un-snowy that we were able to mist net. We got to say hello again to MMOA from last year:
And to KASS:
We tried to say a personal hello to BOGA, but for some reason he didn’t want to participate. He seemed to have a mate, so hopefully we’ll be finding a nest of his soon.
And we banded a few new birds, too.
On our next field outing I’m hoping to see more old friends, and a little less snow.
I thought you couldn’t mist-net in very cold weather. Did it warm up during the day?
We went to lower-down sites where it wasn’t snowing, and the midafternoon sun warmed everything up nicely. You’re quite right, and I’m always careful not to net if it’s even marginally cold.
Snow and tenting don’t generally make good partners. But I agree that snow is much nicer than rain.
Snow is definitely more beautiful than rain.